Moving on after treatment
It can feel good to be done with treatment, but it can also be stressful. You may find that you now worry about the cancer coming back. This is a very common concern among those who have had cancer. (When cancer comes back, it is called a recurrence.)
It may take a while before your recovery begins to feel real and your fears are somewhat relieved. You can learn more about what to look for and how to learn to live with the chance of cancer coming back in Living With Uncertainty: The Fear of Cancer Recurrence.
If you are treated for adrenal carcinoma, your follow-up care will be very important. One reason for this is that no matter what stage the disease was, the cancer can come back. You will see your doctor often after treatment and then less often later on. If you have stage II, III, or IV cancer and have been treated with mitotane, you may need more frequent follow-up. This drug stops both adrenal glands from making steroid hormones. So you will need to take pills to replace these hormones.
During follow-up visits, your doctors will ask about symptoms, do physical exams, and order blood tests or imaging studies (like CT scans or MRIs). Follow-up is needed to watch for treatment side effects and to check for cancer that has come back or spread.
Almost any cancer treatment can have side effects. Some may last for a few weeks or months, but others can be permanent. Please tell your cancer care team about any symptoms or side effects that bother you so they can help you manage them. Use this time to ask your health care team questions and discuss any concerns you might have.
It is also important to keep health insurance. While you hope your cancer won't come back, it could happen. If it does, you don't want to have to worry about paying for treatment. Should your cancer come back, our document When Your Cancer Comes Back: Cancer Recurrence helps you manage and cope with this phase of your treatment.
Seeing a new doctor
At some point after your cancer is found and treated, you may find yourself in the office of a new doctor. It is important that you be able to give your new doctor the exact details of your diagnosis and treatment. Make sure you have this information handy and always keep copies for yourself:
- A copy of your pathology report from any biopsy or surgery
- If you had surgery, a copy of your operative report
- If you were in the hospital, a copy of the discharge summary that the doctor wrote when you were sent home from the hospital
- If you had radiation treatment, a summary of the type and dose of radiation and when and where it was given
- If you had chemo or targeted therapies, a list of your drugs, drug doses, and when you took them
Last Medical Review: 04/22/2010
Last Revised: 06/22/2010